Category Archives: Tree Branch Tales

Elf Magic

Remember when elf magic only made cookies?  Sometimes, I miss those days.

Really though, I do enjoy “Buddy” our Elf on the Shelf.  He’s seldom on a shelf.  And one of those famous terrible North pole snow storms typically messes with his travel schedule each year.  He’s not a timely elf due to those pesky weather patterns.  Often, his arrival is about 2 weeks before Christmas.

And he certainly manages to get into enough mischief in those days leading up to Christmas:

He does usually come around to the meaning behind the season nearer to Christmas day: He joined our family rather late in terms of the kids’ ages.  J was in 5th grade and G a Freshman in high school when he arrived.  J’s 5th grade teacher had an elf and we were hearing about it daily.

Along with a “we should get one!”  My husband thought it was silly.  The boys were too old for such nonsense.  Sometimes though…it’s nice to have a little extra magic around the holidays especially when the fun is starting to fade a bit. Buddy joined our family in mid-December that year.

We don’t buy into the whole he’s spying on us and reporting back to the North pole stuff.  Basically, our elf just arrives and brings an extra dose of Christmas fun.  For the record, I should state G started out referring to him as “the creepy elf” and though it’s been suggested he might, Buddy’s yet to stare at G as he sleeps over night.

Every morning, J wakes up and searches to see what antics Buddy dreamed up overnight.  We’re all glad Buddy the elf joined our family.  It’s a fun way to start our busy December mornings.

Buddy is sleeping in our Christmas tree today.  Wonder how I could convince that darn elf to do my shopping and baking for me?

Note: If I had young children, I’d probably go with this option of the kindness elves instead.  If and when I ever decide to try full-time preschool teacher options, they will definitely visit my class in December.


Does an elf on the shelf reside in your home?


Five On Friday: Ornaments And Other Stuff

Don’t you love my title?  Other stuff is enough to make English teachers everywhere cringe.

It’s my birthday today so I think I’m entitled (ha!) to have a lousy title for my blog post.  I haven’t joined in with Amy’s Five on Friday in a while even though I love to doing it.  A free morning and my birthday means a perfect Friday to join in the fun, I think.

Love Made My Home

I’m going to start by sharing my ornament story for my Tree Branch Tales series.  Yes, I’m sneaking several posts into this one!

        1. Our Kansas City Chiefs Ornaments

          These are 3 Hallmark ornaments that my husband’s mom gave him.  She used to always give us special ornaments for the tree.  A tradition that was in place before I ever arrived in my husband’s life.

          Lots of people were yelling this last night!

          This photo below will look like the same ornament but it is actually the other side of a different one.  I’m really not sure why we have 2 of these.  This is the other side of the ornament:

          Bet you didn’t know Santa was Chief’s fan!

          Just a fun fact about me for my birthday:  My mom actually brought me home from the hospital in a Kansas City Chiefs outfit.  Ironically, the team was pretty awful during my childhood years and I actually grew up cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who happened to be the favorite team of one of my older brothers.

          I do now (mostly) cheer for the Chiefs

        2. J’s First Band Concert!

          Last night while the Chiefs were busy winning and securing 1st place in our division, we were actually attending a winter band concert over at the middle school.  The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands all played a few tunes along with some Christmas selections.  It was such a treat to see my youngest son all dressed up in fine attire for his first concert as a baritone player in the 6th grade band.

          I said no photos, please!

        3. The Christmas Break Countdown

          The last night of our Thanksgiving break, my youngest child asked if he could have the next day off school.  He needed a break.  I guess that is like needing a vacation from your vacation?   We are definitely in need of a longer break around here though.  We now have 7 days until we get there.  I’m honestly not sure we’re going to make it.  I found this fun countdown clock over here.  Christmas is 15 days away:

        4. Christmas Shopping

          Since that clock up there is giving me a bit of anxiety about the big day, I’ll likely gather up all my birthday coupons and spend some time Christmas shopping today.  I enjoy looking for the perfect gifts for my family and I am a teeny bit behind (I’m a bit of a last-minute shopper so I’m not feeling way behind quite yet).  I think it will be a fun way to spend my birthday.

        5. My Tiny Tip I Forgot To Share on Thursday: A Fun and Free App

My blurry photo of a Cedar Wax Wing bird

I love to bird watch (just no birds in my house as pets…as those kind scare me!) and shared this rather blurry photo on Facebook earlier in the week.  A friend mentioned wishing she knew her birds better and it reminded me of the great app I downloaded to my phone.  If you like to bird watch, check out the Merlin Bird ID App from the Cornell Lab.  It’s free and user-friendly!


I’m afraid this post was tad messy and unorganized, just like the author.  How are you spending your Friday?


For The Birds

This tree branch tale is all about the birds!

Do you have a bird on your Christmas tree?  We always had at least 2 birds in the branches of our Christmas tree when I was a child.  One was usually a dove.  I can recall a red bird.  And later, I think there was a bluebird on there as well.  Probably others I have simply forgotten.

I thought birds on the Christmas trees probably had some meaning.  The white dove, of course, is a traditional symbol for peace.  I did a quick Internet search and discovered this page that lists a few Christmas ornament legends.

It talks about glass bird ornaments in the first paragraph (The ones I recall have never been glass but rather ones which simply clip on the tree branches).

Here is a picture of the bird on our tree: 


My little Christmas tree bird

The little bird above always makes me smile.  I think of my sister, I think of the old Christmas trees from my childhood, I think of the real birds and my dad feeding them.

I do find myself feeling happiness and joy whether I am looking at the bird ornament on our tree or enjoying the very real birds outside the window.  Yesterday a little grouping of Cedar waxwings moving through our area brought me much happiness on a day I was feeling a bit down.

Do you have any bird ornaments on your Christmas tree?

A Cookie Baking Tip And An Unrelated Ornament Story

I’m going to share my tiny cookie baking tip with you before I get to today’s tree branch tale.  This is 2 posts for the price of one (and the price is free!).

The first part of the post is my Tiny Tip on A Thursday.  tinytip Are you baking cookies for the holidays?  I’m baking cookies today for the holidays and because I am 2 lunch desserts short for tomorrow.  Sometimes the lunch items don’t make it through the entire week.  I’m also hoping to use my cookies as a bit of an incentive later.

Since I have a bit of time this morning, I’m making the family’s favorite: chocolate chip cookies and using this tip a close friend shared with me many years ago.  If you are an experienced baker, you may already know this tip.

cookie baking tip

Chocolate chip cookie

Today’s tiny cookie baking tip:

Bake your cookies for the lowest time given and then let them finish baking (and cooling) on the cookie sheet while the next batch bakes.  Don’t remove your cookies to the cooling rack until the next batch of cookies is completely cooked.  Let them stay on the cookie sheet the entire 9 minutes while the next batch bakes.  Then, remove them to the wire cooling rack.

I’ve found this tip to be especially useful if I’m using an Air bake cookie sheet.  Sometimes, I’ll even leave the cookies on those to cool through 2 batches of cookies.


Today’s quick tree branch tale:

Rocking Horse Ornament

Rocking Horse Ornament

When I set the tree up on Sunday, I found this forgotten ornament hanging out in the branches.  I’ve had this little golden rocking horse since my freshman year of college.  An old college friend gifted it to me.  We never stayed in touch once I transferred to another college. However, I do think of her when I see this ornament and hope she is doing well.

Are you baking cookies for the holiday season or doing any decorating this week?  I’m really hoping my bribe of homemade chocolate chip cookies helps motivate my husband and boys to help me decorate for the holidays tonight.


Christmas Items From Grandpa’s Attic

While we were in Oklahoma, my husband helped his grandparents clean out some of their attic.  Like most attics, part of the contents included their Christmas decorations.

He brought home a couple of the Christmas decorations. I was especially enamored with this one of Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting on a sofa.   dscn7064 dscn7066 I love that it is a 2 piece decoration and they actually sit on the sofa!  Oh if my boys were younger, I could see how this would be lots of fun (and probably broken).  I can just picture the 5-year-old version of my now teenage son seating his Spiderman and Batman action figures on the little sofa..

The second decoration he brought home was also a ceramic Santa.  This piece is Santa riding a tractor.  I’m not quite as excited by this piece but it is still special. dscn7069 (Excuse the blurry photo)

When I turned these pieces over, I discovered something very special indeed.  Inscribed on the bottom of both pieces were initials and a year.

The initials belonged to my late mother-in-law.  My husband had managed to unknowingly (or perhaps subconsciously he did know?) bring home two ceramic Christmas pieces created by his mom many years ago.

She took a ceramics class and was always making things for the people she loved.  I’m sure these won’t be the last of the Christmas decorations with ties to my late mother-in-law that will appear in this series.

Wondering when I’ll start telling tales of ornaments actually hanging on our tree?  Me, too!  The tree is up but alas not yet decorated.  The resistance is strong this year.  I’m hoping to put my foot down on Thursday and say “It’s December, time to decorate the tree!”

We did discover 2 ornaments (I shared one on Instagram) hanging out in the tree branches that we apparently missed putting away last year.  I’ll share those stories in the next two days.

Is your tree up yet?  When do you typically decorate for the holiday season?


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